The ten-year sentencing of a man found guilty of terrorism offences has highlighted the threat posed by individual extremist actors in the UK. Ian Forman, 42, was initially charged with engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist attacks late last year after a police raid on his home revealed explosives, Nazi paraphernalia and a threatening series of homemade videos. Evidence also pointed towards Forman’s efforts to research a number of potential targets, including the Penny Lane Mosque in Wavertree and the Shah Jalal Mosque in Birkenhead.
In recent cases of “lone wolf” extremism, a lack of capability has prevented the individual from mounting a successful attack. Several factors point towards Forman’s amateurish approach. These include the maintenance of a spreadsheet to compare the cost of chemicals for making explosives, a text message sent to a friend that indicated his plans, and his choice to use a computer at his workplace to conduct explosives research, which ultimately prompted his colleagues to contact the police. Forman’s stylistic association with Nazism similarly echoes the ongoing trial of Michael Piggin, who is accused on planning a series of attacks on Loughborough mosques. Suggestions that Forman radicalised while incarcerated in HMP Belmarsh also serve to reinforce the potential effects of such institutions, as considered in the 3 April Monitor.
We continue to assess that the greatest threat is likely to derive from someone with technical expertise in this area, possibly from the military. The impending trial of soldier Ryan McGee, 19, for terrorism offences underlines this assessment and is likely to draw attention to this scenario, which remains overlooked despite several recent cases. In his case the chance, rather than deliberate, discovery of explosive materials (Police raided his flat in connection with an unrelated matter) suggests that such individuals are less likely to compromise their operations through their own ineptitude, in turn raising the probability of a successful attack.